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Using Ss 44 Gallon Drums For Brewing

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Fat Bastard

Brew Cvlt Doom
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G'day.

Due to unforseen circumstances, I'm unable to brew for a few months. Every cloud having a silver lining (or so it goes) at the end of this period, I will have the space to build and operate a proper 3v rig, as I will not be living in a damn flat.

I'm looking at punching out 40-60 litre batches on a semi-automated electric HERMS or RIMS arrangement.

I potentially have access to some food grade stainless steel 44 gallon drums, fitted with a keg type base and a spigot to take a 1 1/2" triclover fitting. They have lids too. If I can get my grubby fingers on a few of these, I intend to cut them down to approximately 100 litres capacity and refit a bead around the top to make them neat and so the lid fits properly, and fit spigots in the bottom of the HLT and MLT to allow draining from the centre.

The HLT and Kettle will be fitted with electric elements of some sort to provide heat and I'll run the MLT through a heat exchanger or RIMS tube. I'm leaning towards HERMS at this stage as I have a 20l 2400w urn and a 8.8 litre 2000w urn that may fit the bill. Gas firing is out of the question as my intended brew space is in an enclosed area, although this may change.

I'll have plenty of questions regarding this, and I'll use this thread as some sort of blog as the build progresses, but for now, can anyone see any potential problems with using the 44's? Interestingly, some of them appear to be fitted with what looks like a non perforated false bottom, presumably put in place to minimise losses from a side draining through the spigot.

Your thoughts would be appreciated

Cheers,

FB
 

Maheel

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if they are reasonably priced (or free) i would grab them ASAP
apart from boilers they would make a great grain storage vessel.

i reckon your going to need to insulate them and 100L might need a good 20amps in power to heat it with enough grunt
 

Fat Bastard

Brew Cvlt Doom
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if they are reasonably priced (or free) i would grab them ASAP
apart from boilers they would make a great grain storage vessel.

i reckon your going to need to insulate them and 100L might need a good 20amps in power to heat it with enough grunt
The space I have in mind already has power, but the whole joint needs re-wiring so getting a heavy duty circuit put in won't be an issue and bro-in-law is a chippie, so I'm looking at lagging the drums in some fancy-pants aerocell stuff or similar and andwiching it under tasty looking wooden staves around them to make it look pro.

The space currently has 10amp circuits, and drainage via a sump/pump to a grey water tank but no running water or sink, so that will need to be addressed too.

I went and had another look at the drums today.




The second pic shows the "false bottom" fitted to some of the drums, which if I can work out a way to suitably perforate/slot (plasma arc cutter?) without too much effort may be able to work as a FB for the MLT. In a worst case scenario I may be able to use it as a former to produce a FB from perforated sheet. This drum appears to have some rust in it, but all the others don't They've been used to make products for human consumption, so I'll assume they're 304 or 316 stainless.

Does anyone have any clue as to a formula for heat exchanger volume to MLT volume? Assuming that smaller is better so the liquid therein heats up faster, but I'm also assuming some correlation to MLT capacity as well. I'd rather use my 20l Jomack urn as a HX simply because it's higher wattage and much better quality than the 8 liter ALDI jobbie.

Cheers,

FB
 

Byran

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The space I have in mind already has power, but the whole joint needs re-wiring so getting a heavy duty circuit put in won't be an issue and bro-in-law is a chippie, so I'm looking at lagging the drums in some fancy-pants aerocell stuff or similar and andwiching it under tasty looking wooden staves around them to make it look pro.

The space currently has 10amp circuits, and drainage via a sump/pump to a grey water tank but no running water or sink, so that will need to be addressed too.

I went and had another look at the drums today.



The second pic shows the "false bottom" fitted to some of the drums, which if I can work out a way to suitably perforate/slot (plasma arc cutter?) without too much effort may be able to work as a FB for the MLT. In a worst case scenario I may be able to use it as a former to produce a FB from perforated sheet. This drum appears to have some rust in it, but all the others don't They've been used to make products for human consumption, so I'll assume they're 304 or 316 stainless.

Does anyone have any clue as to a formula for heat exchanger volume to MLT volume? Assuming that smaller is better so the liquid therein heats up faster, but I'm also assuming some correlation to MLT capacity as well. I'd rather use my 20l Jomack urn as a HX simply because it's higher wattage and much better quality than the 8 liter ALDI jobbie.

Cheers,

FB
They look pretty special you should be able to get a nice long life out of those puppies!
I think custom making a falsy could end up more of a hassle than buying one......... but if you can get perf sheet and fittings easy then you will save for sure. I have considered marking and drilling a false bottom myself you would just need to mark out a grid and get drilling with a cordless and maybe a 6 pack ;) . It wouldnt take more that half an hour to get one drilled out yourself. Maybe a few drill bits though. Haha
If your gonna use an electric system you should be winning but sorry I cant help you with he heat ex changer setup.
 

Malted

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I have considered marking and drilling a false bottom myself you would just need to mark out a grid and get drilling with a cordless and maybe a 6 pack ;) . It wouldnt take more that half an hour to get one drilled out yourself. Maybe a few drill bits though. Haha
I can confirm that it is boring.... ha ha ha ha ha
For aesthetics you'd want to centre punch every hole to stop the bit wandering (I did not and they wandered even with a drill press). Deburring and polishing after drilling is a PITA

Slotting with a thin cutting disk on the angle grinder seems to work for some folks and would be quicker and easier.
 

NickB

I haven't had a C**t all night, Drinkstable....
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FB, you are indeed correct that a smaller Heat Exchanger will heat quicker - regardless of what size you use, the flow has to be fast enough to completely heat the grain bed to the desired temp, and slow enough to not compact your grain bed....

I'd say a 20L would be OK, but will take time. I'd say aim to use what you have, and just adjust your brewing process around that!

But they look like great vessels to make a brewery from - hope they're the right price ;)

Cheers
 

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